Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

The Morris Animal Foundation has undertaken a huge longitudinal study in order to search for causes of—and potentially treatments for— the most common cause of death in adult dogs: cancer. They believe that by studying cancer in Golden Retrievers, they can shed light on all canine cancer and potentially human cancer as well.

They're trying to get 3,000 Golden Retrievers registered, and they're already a third of the way there. Here's what helping out entails:

  • Your Golden needs to be under the age of two at the time of registration.
  • You need to have at least a three-generation pedigree for your dog.
  • You need to be willing to stay in the study for your dog's entire life.
  • You and your vet need to fill out yearly questionnaires about your dog's health and lifestyle.
  • You need to take your dog to the vet annually for blood, urine, feces, hair, and toenail samples.
  • You need to microchip your dog (a good idea anyway).
  • If your dog gets a tumor, you need to allow samples to be collected from it.
Gus was in the prime of his life when he was diagnosed with lymphoma, only three months after this picture was taken.

Gus was in the prime of his life when he was diagnosed with lymphoma, only three months after this picture was taken.

Comet and Jax were too old to register when this was first announced, or we'd be in it ourselves. We lost Gus at six years old to canine lymphoma, one of the three leading cancers that kill healthy adult dogs. We also lost my childhood dog, Chess, to cancer at seven years old. My hope is that this study will at least take us a big step farther into understanding why these cancers are so common in dogs and in Goldens in particular, and it might even help us move forward on treatments.

So please, please sign up your healthy Golden if he or she isn't two years old yet. I would like to live to see a day in which cancer becomes a chronic or even curable illness rather than a life-threatening or life-ending one, and we're going to get there faster if we all pitch in.

The main page for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is here. More information on what participation entails can be found here.

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